Tag Archives: suspense

Chinatown (1974) R

chinatownIt is 1933 and private detective Jake Gittes is hired by a socialite to investigate her husband’s extramarital affair. Jake doesn’t know what trouble he is about to find and what is really going on. Pre-war southern California is the setting for murder, treason, political graft, deceit, and more.

Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway are at their best. This film noir movie was written for the big screen and was nominated for 11 Academy Awards. The American Film Institute rated Chinatown the second best mystery movie.

Now You See Me (2013) PG-13

This entertaining, fast paced movie centers around four magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco, who are mysteriously brought together to perform a lavish act with amazing feats including pulling off elaborate heists. Are these thefts real or illusions?

Early on Eisenberg’s character says, “The more you think you see the easier it will be to fool you.” “The Four Horsemen” stay one step ahead of the FBI and Interpol in Now You See Me. Director Louis Leterrier also directed the action movie The Transporter.

Jack Reacher (2012) PG-13

Based on Lee Child’s book One Shot, Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) travels across the USA and always runs into some very dangerous people who have killed innocent people and are planning to do more until Reacher stops them. In the movie as well as the book, James Barr is accused of killing five random people and the evidence against him will likely produce a guilty verdict. The suspect doesn’t want an attorney, he won’t confess even though the police and the DA have advised him that if he elects to be tried, the DA will do his best to get him executed. The suspect wants only one thing: to see Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher has plenty of action, but it will give the viewer plenty to think about as well. Rosamund Pike gives a fine performance as Barr’s defense attorney Helen, as does Werner Herzog who plays the chief villain. Robert Duvall stars as Cash, and he gives a fine performance as well.

I have already seen this movie three times and I don’t usually see newer films this many times within such a short period (the last 7 months). I recommend it.

 

The Fall. Series 1 (2013)

To delve into the mind or psyche of a serial killer is gruesome. The TV series The Fall follows a serial killer/husband/father who has targeted his next victim in Belfast. The show is riveting. Gillian Anderson is superb as the British detective summoned to Belfast to solve a high profile murder. She concludes that there is serial killer on the loose.

The show follows the hunter and the hunted: she, on his trail, trying to anticipate his next move; he, trying not to get caught, but wanting to satisfy his desires. Not to be missed.

Now You See Me (2013) PG-13

When a team of illusionists, calling themselves The Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco), begin pulling off a series of elaborate heists, FBI agent Dylan Rhoades (Mark Ruffalo) teams up with Interpol agent Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) to crack the case before their next hit.

The visual aspects of the illusions and the adventure scenes are fantastic and the all-star cast (also featuring Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine) of Now You See Me creates a thrilling suspense film that combines detective mysteries with magic and daring escapades.

Speed (1994) R

Speed, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, is an “on the edge of your seat” thriller from beginning to end. An evil villain (Dennis Hopper) has planted a bomb on a city bus that will explode if the bus does not continue going over 50 miles per hour.

What else do you need to say? There are plenty of near misses to ramp up the tension, and Reeves and Bullock are great together. Speed will take you on a fun ride.

L.A. Confidential (1997) R

L.A. ConfidentialL.A. Confidential captures the feel of a classic film noir without being just a copy. The feeling for 1950s Southern California drips from the screen, the music perfectly captures the mood of each scene, and the acting is terrific.

Three L.A. cops become enemies when they are involved in a scandal later dubbed “Bloody Christmas.” When seemingly disparate events seem to be all pointing in one direction, the three must put behind their previous disdain for each other and work together to solve several murders, find the power behind a pornography and prostitution ring, and track down some missing heroin. The movie is cleverly written, smart, and makes good use of irony in its setting, use of music, and dialogue.

The Man with a Cloak (1951)

An idealistic young French girl Madeline Minot (Leslie Caron) travels to New York City in 1848 to obtain financial assistance from her fiancée’s wealthy grandfather (Louis Calhern) to further the cause of the French Republic. When she arrives, she finds that the old man is destroying himself with drink and being assisted in his demise by the old man’s sinister paramour (Barbara Stanwyck), his butler (Joe De Santis), and his very cynical maid (Margaret Wycherly). The wicked trio plan to inherit the old man’s money.

Madeline Minot meets Dupin (Joseph Cotton), the mysterious man with a cloak who, feeling sorry for the young girl, offers his assistance.

I like this film for the fine performances, the witty dialogue, the almost noirish feel of the film, the mystery aspects, and the setting in 1848 New York. I have no hard data but I suspect that 95% or more of films about 19th century America are westerns, Civil War films or a combination of the two. Even though I am especially fond of westerns, it is a real pleasure to see a film set in the East.

Students of American literature will appreciate this film as well.

I saw The Man with a Cloak for the first time a few years ago and I have seen it three more times since.  It has become one of my favorites and perhaps it will be yours as well.

The Awakening (2011) R

This supernatural thriller is set in London, 1921. Florence Cathcart is a published author on supernatural hoaxes who works with the police to expose the frauds and charlatans claiming they could contact the “other side.”

She is approached by Robert Malory, a boarding school teacher, to investigate the death of a student and to determine if it was related to seeing a ghost. She travels to the school and at first thinks the ghostly sightings are a prank played by the boys at the school. But as she continues her investigation, science fails to give her answers to the unexplainable supernatural events that manifest and entrap her. Rebecca Hall, Imelda Staunton, and Dominic West star in The Awakening, a delight of a horror story!

The Killing (1956)

Sterling Hayden, Elisha Cook, Marie Windsor, Jay C. Flippen, Ted de Corsia, and Joe Sawyer star in this crime drama. The Killing is one of the best “heist films” you’ll ever see. Hayden is an ex-con who has masterminded a huge robbery. The film keeps you tense and thinking at all times as you are given small pieces of information throughout the film, but not enough to figure out how the robbery will be committed and whether it will succeed or not.

Hayden gives a fine performance as does Cook as a wimpy clerk and so does  Windsor as Cook’s shrewish wife.

This film reminds me of Ocean’s Eleven (1960) and its remake (2001). Both of those films had super-deluxe casts and are excellent films, but this one is better and it seems a lot more believable.